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The Consummate Collector
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Going through my recent batch of Colt letters has shown a few surprises. One of my New Service's had the letter S on the left side so I thought I would letter it to see if something might turn up. When I mentioned this to my good friend and Forum member JONNYB and told him that it showed being shipped to Los Angeles he immediately said it was probably a Stembridge movie prop gun. I looked at the letter and sure enough it was sold to J.S. Stembridge. A quick Google search told the story of how James Stembridge left his East Coast home shorty after the Spanish-American war and went to Los Angeles to seek his fortune. Somewhere around 1913 he met up with Cecil B. DeMille and landed a job helping him make a war movie. Mr. DeMille wanted James to coach the actors on how to act like soldiers and emulate their habits. This led to some steady work and sometime between 1916 and 1920 they recognized the need to accumulate a stock of firearms that could be used as movie props. Thus was the beginning of the Stembridge gun arsenal. Over the years, James continued looking for and purchasing guns of all make and style and he became the leading armorer for the movie industry. Even though they rented firearms to all the studios, Stembridge Gun Rental was housed in a secure warehouse on the Paramount lot until 1979. This gun makes you wonder if it might have been used by Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney or Spencer Tracy. Oh well I guess I will never know but it's nice to dream.



 

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A friend of mine once owned a Stembridge Colt SAA that was mismatched with Buck Jones engraved on the backstrap. At that time, the mismatch bothered him, so he sold it. I wish I had been wise enough to buy it. It had the Stembridge "S" above the serial number on the frame. Your gun with the confirming letter is a real prize.
 

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Quite a while back, friends of mine bought semi auto Maadi AKM rifles that were used in the movie Red Dawn. They were sold by Long Mt. but came from Stembridge. Each one came with paper provenance and I think they sold for about $700. The last time I checked one of them sold north of 3K on Gunbroker a few years back.
Being an AK collector and a fan of the original movie, I am still sorry I missed out on one of those AKs.

That's a terrific NS, Cam!
It looks sleek enough for 1930s and 1940s movies. I've always thought the NS went well with the Art Deco era.
Actually, so did Detective Specials, Hammerless, Govt. Models, and fedoras ;)
 

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The 1978 Guns and Ammo Annual had an extensive article on the Stembridge operation with lots of pictures. One of the photos was of a storage drawer full of New Services, One of them had light-colored stocks, but the picture quality wasn't clear enough to tell if they were pearl or ivory.

Have you seen or have a copy of the article?
 

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hi cam; I don't have my hands on it right now, but, in the October issue of "true west" magazine there was a article about movie guns, the person who bought the records from Stembridge, will research your gun. for movie credit. have fun at c.c.a. show. next year is a easy drive for me to N.C.
 

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The Consummate Collector
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7,950 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The 1978 Guns and Ammo Annual had an extensive article on the Stembridge operation with lots of pictures. One of the photos was of a storage drawer full of New Services, One of them had light-colored stocks, but the picture quality wasn't clear enough to tell if they were pearl or ivory.

Have you seen or have a copy of the article?
I have not seen it however I just ordered a copy from Amazon at a cost of $30. Thanks for the heads up and I look forward to seeing it.
 
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